Five distractions to look out for inside your vehicle
We're all aware of the distractions around us when we're driving, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes. But how often do we check what potential distractions we have inside our vehicle? Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards, lists five items that could cause a distraction while driving.
- Smoking and vaping. Bear in mind that there are legal restrictions on smoking in vehicles. If you do smoke or vape inside your car, this could be a distraction. What if you drop it? Where would your focus be? And have you thought about how the smoke from your vape could get in the way of the road?
- Technology. As helpful as technology can be, this can also lead to less focus on the road. For example, a sat-nav can tempt you to take a quick glance as you look at the map. To avoid taking your eye off the road, keep your sat-nav out of sight and listen to the instructions rather than looking. It always helps if you plan your route beforehand. If you need to adjust it, pull into a safe place to do so.
- Food and drink. Eating or drinking in your vehicle slows down your reaction time. It's better to take a short break to consume your food; this way you don't have one hand off the steering wheel, so there's no opportunity for you to be distracted.
- Phones/radio/CDs. Music can become a distraction when you've put the volume too high which can prevent you from hearing any key sounds, such as emergency services. Either turn it off or lower the volume so you are still aware of your surroundings.
- Car ancillaries. This means things like indicators, lights, windscreen wipers etc. When we use these while driving and are unfamiliar with the location of the controls, our attention is not 100% on the road. Even worse, we can sometimes take our eyes of the road for a split second or two. Learn where the controls are to minimise distraction, so you can operate them as safely as possible.
Richard says: "Driving safely requires total concentration, try to minimise any distractions within the car which may affect this. If you do need to make a telephone call or make adjustments to the settings of the vehicle, find somewhere to pull over safely and do it at your leisure. Being distracted can lead to errors in your judgement and may result in a collision or at best, a close call. Why take the chance?"